The Department of Defense recently announced the creation of the Minerva Research Initiative (PDF), also known as Project Minerva, providing as much as $75 million over five years to support social science research on areas of strategic importance to U.S. national security policy. The initiative indicates a renewal of interest in social science findings after a prolonged period of neglect, but it also prompts concerns about the appropriate relationship between university-based research programs and the state, especially when research might become a tool of not only governance but also military violence. The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) has invited prominent scholars to speak to the questions raised by Project Minerva and to address the controversy it has sparked in academic quarters.
Science vs. Religion: a new book, Science and Religion: What Scientists Really Think by Rice University sociologist Elaine Ecklund, discusses the results of her detailed study of 1,646 scientists at top American research universities. Among her findings: ~36% of those surveyed not only believe in God but also practice a form of closeted, often non-traditional faith. They worry about how their peers would react to learning about their religious views. Interview with the author from the Center for Inquiry's Point of Inquiry podcast. Also, here's a webcast from an author discussion forum held at Rice University on April 7th. [more inside]
October's focus on breast cancer is a curvy pink double-edged sword and those in the fight agree. [more inside]
Alfred Kinsey: Liberator or Pervert? (New York Times link, I hope you know the drill by now.) A newish movie explores the life of Alfred Kinsey, sex researcher and founder of the Kinsey Institute. Kinsey was author of the controversial book Sexual Behavior In The Human Male. The controversy has blossomed oh these many years later with accusations that Kinsey's work is fraudulent, and conducive to child based porn and fantasy. The ultra-right seems obsessed with sexualizing his research in terms of "protecting the children". His observations have been linked to the
addictive, destructive nature of pornography, that twists our notions of sex and love, and even enables the sexual abuse of college students in class. (Yeah, I know, that last sounds kinky, doesn't it?)